Planet Rugby

Preview: Waratahs v Rebels

20th March 2014 06:14

Share:

The Waratahs will be eager to avoid back-to-back Super Rugby derby defeats when they face the Melbourne Rebels at Allianz Stadium on Friday.

Last week's 28-23 loss at the Brumbies brought to an end - with a bump we might add - the 'Tahs' winning start to 2014 under Michael Cheika.

We won't sugar-coat it, the defeat was a rude awakening call for the Sydney-based franchise that things are not as pleasant as they'd seemed. Credit the Brumbies though, who spotted a weak midfield link in Kurtley Beale and boy did they exploit it, hitting that channel with runners.

The Brumbies shot out of the blocks via their pre-planned tactic and led 25-9 at one point before consolations for Michael Hooper and Israel Folau. This was a clash that highlighted that if you dominate, or at least match the 'Tahs up front, it limits the attacking threat of Beale and Folau.

Cheika will want a response on home soil and he'll know a good result would put them atop the Australian Conference, provisionally at least. Changes have been made by the head coach in the aftermath of Canberra as Wycliff Palu drops to the bench along with Benn Robinson, as Dave Dennis moves to eight to allow Jacques Potgieter to go back to the flank. Lock Will Skelton and prop Sekope Kepu are the new starters for this match.

But what of their opposition? Well the Rebels were billed as being a side who could spring a few surprises this term due to the arrivals of Tamati Ellison and Luke Burgess coinciding with a return to fitness of Scott Higginbotham. How they've deteriorated since a fine start.

That opening victory over the Cheetahs promised much but then came a dismal defeat at the Force before last week's home loss to the Crusaders. Both those defeats showed a team struggling to penetrate their opposition defence, with the Cheetahs' leaky defence so far in 2014 ultimately lending the Rebels' five-try triumph to possibly being more down to a them, not us scenario. In Sydney they'll look to prove that theory wrong of course.

Achieving an upset victory must be done without full-back Jason Woodward (knee) and prop Laurie Weeks (concussion) though, who are replaced in the starting side by Angus Roberts and Paul Alo-Emile respectively. Lachlan Mitchell meanwhile will be the first Rebel to make 50 appearances, with head coach Tony McGahan naming two Japanese players on his bench as centre Male Sau joins compatriot Shota Horie in their matchday squad.

Prediction: The hosts to bounce back after that Brumbies loss. Waratahs by 15!

The teams:

Waratahs: 15 Israel Folau, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Peter Betham, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Dave Dennis (c), 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Will Skelton, 3 Paddy Ryan, 2 Tatafu Polota Nau, 1 Sekope Kepu.
Replacements: 16 Tolu Latu, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Benn Robinson, 19 Wycliff Palu, 20 Stephen Hoiles, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Rob Horne, 23 Matt Carraro, 24 Pat McCutcheon, 25 Jonno Lance.

Rebels: 15 Angus Roberts, 14 Lachlan Mitchell, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Bryce Hegarty, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Luke Jones, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Toby Smith.
Replacements: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Max Lahiff, 18 Cruze Ah-Nau, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Colby Fainga'a, 21 Ben Meehan, 22 Male Sa'u, 23 Tom Kingston.

Date: Friday, March 20
Kick-off: 19:40 local (08:40 GMT)
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Graham Cooper (Australia)
Television match official: George Ayoub (Australia)

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London WelshSale vs London Welsh Preview
London Irish vs SaracensLondon Irish vs Saracens Preview
Harlequins vs WaspsHarlequins vs Wasps Preview
Bath vs LeicesterBath vs Leicester Preview
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs NorthamptonNewcastle vs Northampton Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs GlasgowNewport Gwent D
Scarlets vs Benetton TrevisoScarlets vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse14:45
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Oyonnax18:30
Clermont Auvergne vs LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Preview
Montpellier vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs SharksBlue Bulls vs Sharks Preview
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , September 20
Hawkes Bay vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Preview
Manawatu vs Southland19:35
Sunday , September 21
Otago vs WaikatoOtago vs Waikato Preview
Wellington vs TasmanWellington vs Tasman Preview
Wednesday, September 24
North Harbour vs Canterbury19:35
Thursday , September 25
Bay Of Plenty vs Northland19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester 22 - 25 ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Munster 31 - 5 ZebreMunster vs Zebre Report
Cardiff Blues 9 - 26 UlsterCardiff Blues vs Ulster Report
Connacht 10 - 9 LeinsterConnacht vs Leinster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Brive 13 - 53 ToulonBrive vs Toulon Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Lions 29 - 15 Pumas
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 20 - 28 CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Report
Thursday , September 18
Northland 20 - 31 TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Report
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
More Top 14 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Exeter310
2Saracens29
3Bath29
4Leicester Tigers29
5Northampton26